An Old Favorite Wild Bird Feeder is Back

July 22, 2015
posted by birdhouse chick @ 10:42 am

The bottle bird feeder makes a gift that keeps on giving!

It takes all kinds… all kind of feeders that is. For suet, peanuts, mealworms, nectar, fruit, jelly, nyjer, where does one start? Let’ go with basic seed in a not so basic feeder! Headed to a house-warming or birthday party? Something like this wild bird feeder is perfect when you’d like to bring a little more than a bottle of vino. Long after consumption, this gift keeps on giving! Even if the recipient isn’t into the birding scene… it’s a fantastic way to to introduce them to one of the fastest growing and most enjoyable hobbies around!

Handcrafted in GA, the bottle feeder quickly mounts just about anywhere, and birds flock to it immediately! The stash stays dry and protected from elements, while drainage in the tray keeps things from getting messy. Black oil sunflower or mixed seed works best, we prefer sunflower hearts or a no-waste mix as it leaves little ground mess. Many feathered species prefer sunflower hearts too; chickadees, titmice, nuthatches, cardinals, bluebirds will eat this seed in winter, finches and woodpeckers… to name just a few of the usual suspects!

For a limited time, the bottle feeder is back because the artist says they just take too long to make! Wildly popular on Pinterest a few years ago, the bird feeder looks like something you could easily make yourself, maybe so if you’re the handy type? The one thing we do know is birds love this feeder and it’s perfect for year-round use.

Butterfly Feeders for Unique Garden Accents and Monarchs

July 11, 2015
posted by birdhouse chick @ 9:02 pm

Butterfly Feeder/Bath on Tall StakeBuzz about the Monarch’s dwindling population is more than justified. You may have heard about it, but if not check this fact: Since the mid-90’s their decline has reached 90% from the 20-year average. What’s this mean in terms of real numbers? Swap monarchs for people for a second, every person in the US would be gone except for those living in just two states!

One of the biggest reasons for their decline is believed to be the disappearance of milkweed- the Monarch caterpillar’s only food source, and also the only plant on which Monarchs will lay their eggs. To name a few other culprits; urban sprawl, extreme weather, new farming practices and illegal logging in the butterflies’ winter habitat in Mexico.

Offering suitable habitat and butterfly feeders really does help the local Monarch population. Don’t bother with houses… they don’t use them! Both can be fantastic and unique garden accents – with feeders being much more useful. Butterflies also adore leaf misters, set one up near lantana or any other nectar-producing plant and you’re bound to see some winged action!

The butterfly feeders above are handmade, blown glass flowers on a 36-inch stake. They’re versatile for nectar or fruit, and for songbirds too. The hanging butterfly feeder below has been tested and approved by butterfly experts. A special combination of wicks and tubes mimic real flower blossoms, the design and color attracts butterflies and the nectar reservoir size is ideal to minimize spoilage.hanging butterfly feeder in use

This season, Swallowtails have been spotted in our butterfly habitat, but no Monarchs yet :( Still a few months for their presence in the southeast… we’ll continue to feed and keep watch for the winged wonders!Butterfly getting nectar from flowers  Butterfly habitat with leaf mister

Opportunistic Robins and More Wait Below this Mealworm Feeder

July 7, 2015
posted by birdhouse chick @ 2:42 am

Mealworm feeders with juvenile bluebirdThe worms crawl in-the worms crawl out… of some mealworm feeders!

See them in the back, on the right side? Escapees! It’s problematic enough when cat birds and cardinals and warblers start in on your live worms, after all-they’re meant for the bluebirds. Recent fledges are learning to use the feeders, so it’s a real bummer when they figure it out and it’s empty :(

Robins, chipping sparrows, cardinals, towhees, chickadees, titmice and still others have learned that sometimes it rains worms. They’ll sit below this screened mealworm feeder and wait for the manna to fall… and it does.

Not to say the design is sub-par, just maybe not the best choice for offering live mealies. Dried worms and other bluebird treats are ideal in this hanging feeder, but the tooth (screen texture) gives the live ones a good grip and path to exit stage left!orb mealworm-feeder

The new steel Orb Feeder features an acrylic cup, a nice smooth surface that keeps worms put, that is until titmice and chickadees discover them. And the blue dish shown above is also a nice smooth surface, one from where worms can not escape.

Something we’ve experimented with this season (and is quite successful) is offering more of the dried worms – much more economical. But the trick is to soften them first so that parents will feed them babies. Steeping dried meal worms in boiling water for about ten minutes-then draining, is ideal if you’re a backyard bird freak like us :)

So a good basic rule of thumb is that live worms do much better when placed on a smooth surface! Should too many worms be disappearing altogether, an enclosed feeder is likely best. Bluebirds are one of the few who will “fly-in” a feeder. Without fail, Carolina wrens are always the first to figure it out!

With so many new fledges out and about, it’s a great time to try offering mealworms if you never have in the past. One way to stretch worms and make them lat longer is to use a mixture. One of our recipes includes a no-melt suet cake (crumbled), shelled peanuts and a few sunflower hearts… the birds love it!

Happy Independence Day ~ Red, White and Blue Birds!

July 4, 2015
posted by birdhouse chick @ 12:50 am

July 4th Holiday

A safe and happy holiday weekend to all~

Finally a new camera… a real camera! First few practice shots bring some red, white and blue birds.

Baby blues learning the feeders – look at those faces!

bluebird-babiesWhite Breasted Nuthatch on platform feeder. Not too bad for first try!

white breasted nuthatch

cardinal at platform feeder

Male cardinal – They’re molting now and looking a little funky… though in a few weeks their beauty will shine through with a new set of vibrant red feathers!

Lots of others but we’ll stick with the 4th theme today! Wishing all a wonderful and safe holiday weekend!

Water Features and Solar Bird Baths for All Friendly Fliers

June 26, 2015
posted by birdhouse chick @ 10:18 am

Solar Bird Baths and other water featuresIn the heat of summer there’s no better way to entice friendly fliers than with moving water!

Accessories for bird baths and leaf misters will absolutely bring more birds (and butterflies) to the garden. Because Copper Hummingbird Bird Bath Dripperthey keep water from becoming stagnant, it stays fresher and mosquitoes can’t lay their eggs in it either.

Both solar fountains and those using electricity recirculate water in bird baths. Drippers and leaf misters run off the outdoor spigot and although very slow and adjustable, do utilize a continuous water flow. They come as complete kits with everything required to be up & running in minutes… no kidding!

Leaf Mister on plant stake offers easy mobilityLeaf misters offer lots of options for placement too. You can attach them to a branch or trellis, (50 ft. of rubber tubing is included) attach to a deck bracket or even a simple plant stake in the garden. We prefer the latter as the mister may easily be moved around to benefit the garden by watering different sections daily.

Butterflies especially adore the gentle mist, while hummingbirds and other songbirds like chickadees and bluebirds will wait for them to start each morning… it’s like a spa for them and makes a spectacular viewing experience for host too.Swallowtail on lantana with leaf mister nearby Place leaf misters near nectar-producing plants like lantana and enjoy the show!

Moving water in a bird bath or somewhere in the landscape is the ticket to seeing more bird activity during warm summer months. In fall, simply pack them up and store away for next season. A one-time investment that promises to bring many seasons of use and enjoyment… and more winged activity to your place!

Of Bees and Bat Houses and the Pollinator Partnership

June 20, 2015
posted by birdhouse chick @ 11:00 pm

Pollinator Partnership Tagline To jump-start National Pollinator Week (okay, so we’re on the very last day-last hour of it) the Pollinator Partnership (P2) introduced The Highways BEE Act. Because bees, butterflies, birds and bats bring us one in every three bites of food, pollinators form the essential underpinnings of a healthy and sustainable future… for all of us.

Over 250 national, regional, and local organizations and 2,500 American scientists and individuals from all walks of life across the nation have already signed a petition in support of the Highways BEE Act, H.R. 2738. bee-highways-act petition supports pollinatorsSuch legislation is designed to help cash-strapped states reduce roadside maintenance costs, while providing habitat for crucial pollinators. After all, without bats we might not have bananas or tequila! Almost exclusively, bats pollinate the agave plant which is where tequila is born! But in all seriousness, interested organizations, businesses and individuals can find out more and sign a petition in support of the legislation at

Providing habitat closer to home could include nixing the use of pesticides and manicured lawns, planting predominately native in the landscape, and the addition of bat houses on your property. If you already see the furry mammals (yes, they’re really mammals) fluttering around at dusk, chance are excellent they’ll take up residence in the new digs.

Look for bat Houses that are OBC approved

Like NABS (North American Bluebird Society) for approved bluebird houses and PMCA for purple martin houses, bat houses have OBC (The Organization for Bat Conservation). A wealth of knowledge for any questions bat-related, it’s a good idea to look for the OBC seal of approval when purchasing a new home for the furry friends.

Whether testing the waters with a smaller design, or full-on ready to host larger colonies, bat houses are available from single- to triple-chamber sizes. Although they may be post mounted (minimum 12- 15 feet high), most sources recommend mounting them on a structure or tree. Bats don’t require the open spaces that many birds prefer. They like to be close to things, which is why they sometimes end up in your attic!

Handcrafted cypress bat houseWith a growing public awareness for the plight of, and broader knowledge of the critical role pollinators play for crops and for the future, there’s a strong collective popularity developing. From manufacturing and marketing of bee keeping and bug hotels to thriving master gardener groups, bat houses have also kept right in stride. You’ll find them in traditional cedar, cypress, recycled plastics and vinyl/PVC. They’re good-looking enough to actually mount on the side of your home as a decorative accessory! So please house the bats and sign the petition mentioned above… for all of us and for future generations :)




Novel Options for Squirrel Feeders

June 15, 2015
posted by birdhouse chick @ 9:28 pm

Squirrel feeders done in recycled plastic last much longer

You may think it’s the absolute craziest thing in the world, but plenty of folks get a kick from feeding squirrels. If you baffle the bird feeders properly, and the furry critters don’t tell too many of their friends… it’s usually cool!

Traditional squirrel feeders like the big jar, munch box, and table & chair have been updated using durable recycled plastic. Also called poly-lumber, the material is good looking and wares much nicer and longer than wood.

But a jar is a jar and it’s glass. Because glass may break for whatever reason, replacement jars are available. But something we’ve discovered: Pickles! The industrial size pickle jar usually fits these feeders! And for considerably less money when shipping is figured into the price. Plus you get a whole lot of pickles… fried pickles anyone?

One corn log equals 12 ears of cornUsing corn cobs with your squirrel feeder? Check out the Squirrel Logs for long-lasting use. A novel idea, these are compressed corn (in two flavors) that equal about 12 ears of regular corn cobs. Something else we’ve discovered? Be sure the logs are securely attached to the feeding pin as our crafty critters have managed to steal them from time-to-time! They just require twisting up on the pin every few days to keep a tight connection.

These work well with the Bungee Cord Feeder and the Table & Chair. The pins (or screws) on the feeder must be threaded… or your crafty critters will steal them too!

Want to offer a combination of corn cobs and peanuts or munch mix for your guys? The Ultimate Combo Feeder fits the bill. Pins for two ears of corn plus a lift-up compartment for special treats. Lucky squirrels will think they’re at the Ritz!Offer squirrels corn cobs and peanuts in one feeder

Change it up for furry friends. During frigid winter weather peanut butter is a huge hit when smeared on corn cobs, but summer days in the south turn the gooey stuff to liquid in minutes. Substitute an apple or pear that might be a bit too ripe for your liking. Suet? Squirrels adore it and the no-melt varieties are perfect for summer feeding.

Yes squirrels can be a major pain for some folks, but they manage to bring smiles and laughs to others. Once you get the hang of keeping them out of bird feeders, they really aren’t so bad :)



Give a Dovecote Birdhouse for Father’s Day

June 12, 2015
posted by birdhouse chick @ 10:38 am

Dovecote Birdhouse features vinyl/PVC with copper roofBecause Father’s Day is on the way, we’d like to offer a few unrivaled ideas for those dads who dig birds!

Looking for something special this year? A lasting gift to bring some real enjoyment can be found in birdhouses and feeders. There’s nothing better than escaping daily chaos by connecting with nature… well, maybe a trip to the beach?

Grabbing time to just sit and watch birds at a feeder does something for heart and soul, it soothes the mind and quiets the brain. Listening to birdsong also has a tranquil effect, after all, it’s been around since the dawn of time.

Traditional dovecote birdhouses have a new spin for sports-minded dads too! Sized from bluebird to mansion they’re available in team colors. Since these are made to order, best to shake a tail feather to get it in time for Father’s Day. Monday 6/15 is last call.

Fathers-Day-Bluebird and Dovecote Birdhouses in Team ColorsLots of other unique gift ideas too, but remember the early bird catches the best birdhouses and feeders!

Oh yeah, the real beauty here is durable vinyl/PVC construction. These post-mounted bird homes look like wood, but wear like vinyl siding on a real house. There’s no deterioration, no rotting or cracking. Take a garden hose to them for cleaning, they’re built to last and USA made :)  Do right by Dad with a gift that’s guaranteed to please him… and the birds!

Texas Rains and Blue Bird Houses Gone Wrong

June 6, 2015
posted by birdhouse chick @ 3:56 am

In no way meant to diminish the extent of damage and loss from recent Texas floods, but being bird nerds, we wanted to convey the devastation at bird level too. Below the video is a devoted landlord’s heart breaking account of several days inside one of her blue bird houses.

The video below gives a good look at the Red River, check the panicked birds at 0.50. Possibly tens of thousands of cliff- and barn swallows were nesting under the three main bridges that succumbed to rising water, they lost homes and babies. Birds really do give us a glimpse of our changing environment.

“Well my first clutch did not work out well. I have a box in my yard, male and female came, made a nest and laid 6 eggs .
Everything was going great. Then the storms hit. The male disappeared and left Mama to tend to 4 that hatched. I provided meal worms in hopes to help her out.

The rains just wouldn’t let up and she was having a very hard time getting any insects except the meal worms I provided. Then house sparrows came, even with a sparrow spooker, the female HOSP kept looking into the box. This prevented the Mom from leaving to hunt. I set a ground trap and did catch the pair. One bluebird nestling was dead in the nest. Then came home a few days later and a Red Tail Hawk was in the yard trying to get the house sparrow – needless to say mama blue was very upset and no telling how long she went without hunting that day.

Two days later another dead nestling. There were no signs of trauma but the nest was wet. I was forced to do a nest change and the remaining two were 16 days old. Two days later, after more torrential rains, another dead nestling. So I changed the nest again and tried to weather proof the house better. The storms were so severe that I figured that is why the last one didn’t fledge.

Yesterday I took the last one out and changed the nest again but noticed her wings were not normal. Only flight feathers and none of the smaller blood feathers (?) With help from the folks on Facebook, I found a rehab place. She lives in Ft. Worth and it’s about a 45 minute drive but I was going to take her the baby. She asked where I lived and she was surprised and said she was in Joshua now at the DQ!

I bundled up the nestling “stormy” and took her to the lady. She said it looked to be a nutritional problem and felt she will be able to save her! I took the box down, replaced the roof and new screws in where they were loose. Cleaned out the box real good and put it back. I know the mom is very upset, she is still calling this morning even through the storms :( I feel so bad for her.”

Even those who don’t use blue bird houses are suffering heavy losses with downed trees and limbs and breaking snags.

Keith Kridler of Mt. Pleasant, Texas writes: “The reason Texas is having so much flooding is due to just how flat the Eastern half of the state is. Rivers are normally slow flowing nearly flat river bottoms with on average only one foot of fall or elevation change per one mile of river bed. Link below is to a short video of the Red River that flows between Oklahoma and Texas. Video is from last week and this bridge will go completely under water this weekend and or by Monday now. Notice in the one shot there appear to be hundreds if not thousands of Cliff Swallows flying in the air. These birds nest by the tens of thousands under these major bridges all across Texas. All three of the major bridges crossing the Red River between Texarkana and Paris Texas are thought to be going under water this weekend and or first of the week. Or about 100 miles from first to last bridge along the river. There are many videos of flooded bridges, watch for the numbers of swallows at each bridge.

I have counted as many as 1,000 Cliff Swallow nests under a single short span of highway overpass over a two lane farm to market road locally. Nearly all of the videos coming out of Texas are showing large flocks of Swallows circling these bridges and over passes that went under water. Barn Swallows and Cliff Swallows and also Eastern Phoebe’s nest in small road culverts that are normally dry in the summer. This summer most of these have gone under water multiple times. You sometimes find bluebirds, House Sparrows and other small species of cavity nesting birds that will nest in or on the left over swallow nests under these bridges and over passes.

Herds of wild hogs are getting pushed out of these river bottoms, deer now have small fawns and livestock are having to be moved upwards of a mile or further on some of the ranches to get above the flood waters. Any high ground near the river banks are swarming with stranded wildlife from snakes to bobcats. Anything that can climb a tree is hanging out in the tree tops.”

Mother nature can be brutal, but she is resilient. Mama blue and others will go on to nest again and raise their young. We hope for all of those who suffered damage and losses that this is soon and life regains a sense of normalcy.

Decorative Bird Houses and Freedom for All

May 25, 2015
posted by birdhouse chick @ 12:14 pm

americana-decorative birdhouseAside from gatherings and bar-b-ques, Memorial Day is a good time to reflect on the freedom we take for granted. Pause for a minute today and think about all those who’ve sacrificed for that freedom we enjoy.

Pretty much free to do as we please on our own property, gardening, birds and outdoor living spaces are bigger (and better) than ever! Decorative birdhouses not only offer refuge for birds, they can spruce up the landscape and turn a boring spot exciting. If you’re lucky enough to have a pair of nesting birds, watching them fledge can be thrilling.

Please, please, do not offer a house with a huge gaping entry as it will attract the wrong birds. Are we bird snobs? Heck no, all the usual suspects gather at our place. By “wrong birds” we’re talking the less desirable, non-native species who threaten our native cavity nesters like bluebirds, tree swallows, purple martins and others. These birds are protected under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, and European starlings and English house sparrows threaten their existence daily.

Ask any martin or bluebird landlord about the horrors of these invasive birds, they actively trap starlings and house sparrows in order for blues and martins to thrive… its the only way, and yes it is legal. If you do a quick search on either of these non-native species, you’ll find blood-curdling stories and some very disturbing images of the havoc they wreak on bluebirds, martins and others. We won’t go into detail here as you’ll see for yourself. And the mess? For heaven’s sake, there’s no nastier bird out there than a starling! This is why several manufactures offer traps specifically for these two species. Sparrow and starling traps are quite popular among anyone hosting a martin colony or bluebirds!

With an innate sense to reproduce, they kill and maim to access nesting space. So this is where freedom to put up any old decorative birdhouses comes into play. If you have one of those cute styles from the fair, or something a bit whimsical from the craft store- it’s perfectly okay. Just be sure the entry is proportional for the birds you’d like to attract. No gaping huge holes as they entice starlings to nest. The entry should never be at the very bottom of the house either, it makes nestlings easy prey for a slew of predators.

Yes the holiday weekend is a time to reflect on freedom, please give native songbirds the freedom to nest and raise their young in peace. Because enough predators already exist, and real-estate is scarce out there, offer proper housing for nesting and don’t encourage these non-native birds to your place!